Tuesday, 25 July 2017


The Canberra Times, 6 December, 1948.

What may rank as one of the greatest losses of human
life in shipping history occurred, when the river steamer
Kiangya sank on Friday night after an explosion, outside
Woosing at the mouth of the Shanghai harbour.
The 2,000 ton steamer was believed
to be packed with 4,000 refugees bound 
for Ningpo.
The owners claimed that Communist 
saboteurs in junks attached explosives 
to the stern of the vessel. Shipping men, 
however, are inclined to blame over-
strained boilers.
While the shipowners - the China 
Merchants Steam Navigation 
Company continued silent
on the disaster the Chinese and
foreign Press estimated this morning 
that the loss of life ranged from several 
hundred to 3,000.
Should these fatality figures
be borne out, the Kiangya loss
would rank as one of the great-
est disasters in world shipping
The company admitted that the
number of passengers carried
must have exceeded the 
registered maximum.
In an attempt to determine the
likelihood of Communist sabo-
tage, officials consulted United
States naval authorities last night.
The latter were said to have
considered the supposition quite

It is interesting to note that over-strained boilers could be considered the cause of an explosion sufficient to sink a steamer. Such an explosion would, to a large extent, have been muffled within the bottom reaches of the hull. My thoughts return to the heavily laden, under-powered Waratah, producing large volumes of smoke - and then mysteriously disappearing....

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